AFI FEST 2020 REVIEW! “You don’t eat apples?” a character is asked in Christos Nikou’s absurdist treatise on memory and identity, Apples. “I don’t remember if I like them,” comes the response. Apples are featured prominently in this darkly comic tale of a world in the grip of an amnesia pandemic, seen through the eyes of a man who’s just succumbed to the inexplicable affliction. The filmmaker performs an astounding feat of maintaining the perfect balance between self-awareness, alienation, warmth, comedy, and pathos. Apples is a singular experience.
Aris (Aris Servetalis) wakes up in a tram. It’s the end of the line. He doesn’t remember his name. He is admitted to a facility, where he – in one of the many displays of the film’s paradoxical (and dryly humorous) statements – is told not to worry and that he has irreversible amnesia. Memory tests are performed, wherein Aris identifies basic objects and matches music to images. He’s officially an unclaimed patient; no one has come searching for him. Aris is enrolled in the “New Identity” program to start a new life, “create new experiences and memories.”
“…darkly comic tale of a world in the grip of an amnesia pandemic, seen through the eyes of a man who’s just succumbed to the inexplicable affliction.”
The program, via warped tape recordings, encourages the detached Aris to perform a specific list of tasks while capturing each of them on a Polaroid camera. He consequently visits a strip club, rediscovers the “joys” of riding a bike, and catches a perch (a fish), among various other assignments. Soon, a tender relationship seems to form between Aris and fellow patient Anna (Sofia Georgovassili).
However, he remembers more than she does – things like track and field, neighborhood dogs, and an entire song’s lyrics. On the other hand, Anna is a lost soul who thinks that counting to 154 amounts to four minutes. They dance and make love. His tape recording reveals that his instructions are going to get a tad more complicated. Can Aris remember more than he lets on? Is there, perhaps, a secret that he harbors?
"…regards humanity with both warmth and disdain."